Night Terrors of Canute


 The trees and the sea are in league

to thieve my peace. No soft

susurration. Hissing, whispering,

sinister, twisted, conniving

conspirators. I strain to listen,

not to listen. I fear their intention,

their intervention in the invention

of my mind. Now wind is their ally.

Rally they to fling shot

at my window. Sling-shot

could not fright me so. Night, go!

Take these spitting, howling demons

far from here. Leave, trees!

Seize I the day! Light, flow!

Banish boiling, roiling, thrusting tide.

Bide with me, day. Tide, turn away.

First published in Reach Poetry


Do you know how it feels to be utterly and completely without hope

to watch the well through jaded windows passing by each day

while you are walled alive inside a home you would escape from

if you could, though you have not committed any crime,

incarcerated indefinitely, no parole, appeal or pardon?

Not one prison visitor ever calls, no social worker, education officer,

welfare woman, surly screw, committee member, doctor, nurse or shrink.

Do you know the helpless, heartless moment when the politicians

send polite replies to your appeals for help? ‘We know. We sympathise.

We’re sorry. We will do our best.’ The years go by. You write again.

‘We know. We sympathise. We’re sorry. We will do our best.’ They don’t.

The NHS will tell you: ‘We are wonderful. We help so many people. We’re improving.

We’ve improved. We’re winning. We have reached our targets.’ ‘We don’t care’

is what they should be saying. ‘Not for you. You are nothing much to us.

You are a bafflement, a nuisance, an embarrassment, a perplexing puzzle.

Failure is not good for our P.R. Your condition undermines our success rates.

We shall continue to ignore you, though you mushroom and envelope us.’

Beware complacence. Here we come, dragging wasted bodies to your threshold,

whimpering sotto voce through your letterbox, hauling heavy limbs

to immolate two hundred thousand corpses in a beacon blazing brightly

you cannot fail to see, you ministers, you medics, bureaucrats, despisers

of our frailty, you excuse-makers, you children with your clumsy, clammy,

hammy hands clasped tightly on your ears. Make a wish, oh M.E. people,

that every smarmy, slimy, scheming, selfish politician might suffer

as we do and have done, will do five, ten, fifteen, twenty years,

a lifetime, without hope, so we can smile and sigh and shrug our shoulders

and close the door, ignoring them in turn, until they’re dead.

Third prize in 2007 Indigo Dreams Press Poetry Awards

First published in Reach Poetry